1 Check for illness or injury
If your pet is repeatedly rejecting its meals, it could be in pain – toothache, joint pain, injury and digestive discomfort can all affect your pet’s appetite. Make sure you visit your vet as soon as you can to rule out any serious health problems.
2 Serve an appealing diet
Your pet is more likely to be tempted by pet food that contains high-quality protein sources such as beef, chicken, lamb and turkey. You can choose either wet or dry food, but you may find that wet food in jelly or gravy is more popular with fussy eaters.
3 Be consistent with the mealtime routine
Feed your pet in the same place, at the same time each day, and try to give them peace and privacy to eat. Cats like to eat a good distance from their litter tray, and away from their water bowl. Feeding different pets at different times can also encourage anxious pets to enjoy mealtimes again.
4 Choose a suitable bowl
Metal or ceramic are the best choices, as plastic can affect the flavour of your pet’s food. Cats can also be fussy about the shape and height of a food bowl – they usually prefer a wide, shallow dish so their whiskers don’t touch the sides. Wash your pet’s food bowls in hot water, and avoid strongly scented detergents – especially citrus scents, which cats don’t like.
5 Limit daily treats
Too many treats can affect your pet’s appetite. Measure out daily or weekly treats, and put them aside in a separate box or carton – then the whole family knows when your pet has had its treat allowance for each day.
6 Resist begging at the table
Feeding your pet scraps and leftovers at human mealtimes can encourage pets to reject their meals and hold out, instead, for sweet or fatty treats. Your pet needs to know that its food comes from its bowl and not from your plate.
7 Swap to little meals, more often
Cats and small dogs often prefer eating smaller portions three or four times a day. It also means less wasted food if your pet doesn’t eat it all.
8 Limit the time food stays out
If your pet’s food hasn’t been eaten after 30 minutes, take it away or cover it over. Cats can be very picky about eating food that has started to dry out.
9 Avoid fridge-cold food
Fussy pets may be happier to eat wet food that is served at room temperature, or even slightly warm, to boost the smell and flavour.
10 Make mealtimes fun
Try hiding pieces of kibble in different locations for your pet to find, or use interactive food-puzzle toys.
11 Check that no else is feeding your pet
Finally, check your pet is not being fed by your neighbours or scavenging for leftovers in local bins. Not only will this affect your pet’s appetite, it could increase the risk of disease or parasitic infection.
Advice for happy, healthy pets
Pets at Home is the UK's largest pet supplies store. From toys and bedding to tailored food and in-store veterinary clinics, it's the first place to go for any pet need.
If your pet is being choosy about what it eats, have a chat with your vet. Free pet food consultations are also available at your nearest Pets at Home store – or ask in store.